Posted by Athanasios Patsos

Heat decarbonisation in manufacturing: How to choose the right options

Heat intensive manufacturers know that optimisation will only go part of the way to reduce their scope 1 and 2 emissions down to zero. Decarbonisation of heat requires more significant changes. Low carbon technology for both electricity and heat is likely to play a big part in reaching zero carbon.

A patchwork of options will need to be considered; for example:

  • Electrification technologies such as heat pumps,

  • Low carbon fuels such as green hydrogen or biogas,
  • Process innovations changing the type of heat required,
  • Market instruments such as renewable gas certificates.

But investment in low carbon technology holds many risks:

  • It is difficult for manufacturing companies to develop plans with high levels of confidence when there are still many questions around technology maturity, future direction of policy and expected availability of low carbon fuels. This is even before the capital and operational costs can be considered.

  • Significant investment is needed but the business case is not easy to make without a long-term direction.

  • Taking the wrong decision today risks locking in high carbon heat sources for the life of the equipment (typically 15-20 years).

These risks can be overcome with clear planning.

Athanasios Patsos, Head of Deliver for Zero says:

Our clients are seeing the value in developing a heat strategy for their operations. Although they might not implement the technologies straight away, they use the plan to confidently replace equipment and implement new design and retrofit measures, as they are needed. A strategy avoids investment in equipment which will become redundant or incompatible with the future low carbon heat solution. It also reduces future integration costs. So, a good plan means no expensive mistakes or technology dead ends.”

Here are three steps to start developing your heat decarbonisation plan:

  1. Review how heat is used in your operations. This will ensure your decarbonisation plan is aligned with your operations and future investment plan.

  2. Consider the different options in terms of Capex, Opex, technology maturity, availability of fuel, and of course, the potential zero carbon impact. Here is a summary:

  3. Narrow down your options and develop a strategy with milestones for decision making allowing sufficient flexibility of final technology/ low carbon fuel source.

How we help: Technology mini guides

These downloadable pdf guides give our insights into the main technology options for manufacturers to decarbonise heat.  We address and compare important considerations such as technology maturity, Capex and Opex with a traffic light system so you can weigh up the different options for your site.

There are four guides in this series, covering the technologies and means that manufacturers typically consider:

1. Biofuels and commercial instruments

  • Biomass

  • Biogas

  • Market Instruments

  • 3rd party agreements

2. Solar thermal

  • Concentrated solar thermal

  • Solar water heaters

3. Power to gas

  • Green Hydrogen gas

  • Renewable methane

4. Power to heat

  • Heat pumps

  • Electrode boilers

Download the guides

Technology Screening Assessment service

With this cost-effective service, we do the hard work for you. Confidently narrow down your options and understand their expected impact in terms of both costs and carbon.

Our experienced team will do an initial assessment of the best fit technology options, based on the profile of your operations. They will map and evaluate the key decision points and technology risks on your carbon reduction pathway.

You will avoid investing time and effort on dead-ends and reduce the risks of uncertainty of this complex but important area.

Find out more